Beth Hart: Better Than Home (Provogue/Warners)

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Beth Hart: Might As Well Smile
Beth Hart: Better Than Home (Provogue/Warners)

Hart may have a troubled soul – junk, booze and family matters all took their toll – but at her extraordinary Powerstation show last month she proved a good-humoured survivor with powerful stories to tell, and an exceptional voice to convey the hurts, optimism and energy required to pull herself through.

And here across 11 originals she drops personae and dives into her autobiography for a soul-baring collection which -- in songs like the gospel-influenced ballad Tell 'Em To Hold On and the cheeky, unapologetic feminine-power rocker Trouble – offer affirmation to others.

The woman who has the raw nerve abrasiveness of Janis Joplin here also delivers classic sounding soul (the outstanding Tell Her You Belong To Me to her estranged father), restrained ballads (the title track) and dark narratives (the multilayered St Teresa about a condemned man's last wishes).

Most of these songs can be read on different levels too because from the personal she pulls universal truths.

If the orchestrated We're Still Living in the City sounds like an Eighties movie theme it has enough early, battered Tom Waits about it to suggest it'd be a film you'd want to see.

Quite a woman, quite an album. The most powerful and personal of her career.

For more on Beth Hart including an interview start here

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